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Am I Eligible for Mental Health Court?

26September
2018

If you have a mental illness and are facing charges, dealing with the legal system can be an overwhelming experience. Fortunately, there are certain circumstances where a person with a mental illness can qualify for mental health court, making the process much easier.

What are mental health courts?

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Mental health courts are specialty courts that combine judicial supervision along with community treatment and support for those with a mental illness. The purpose of these courts is to help reduce criminal activity and improve the quality of life of the participants. Mental health courts have seen success by reducing incarceration, preventing more crimes from being committed, and offering help and support.

Who qualifies for mental health courts?

Defendants can only be referred to mental health courts by defense attorneys, judges, service providers, jail staff, or family members. To be considered to participate in mental health court, a defendant must agree to plead guilty. Each program varies by state, but most mental health courts will accept defendants that suffer from a severe mental illness such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Offenses accepted in the courts can range from misdemeanors to felony charges. However, DUIs, sexual offenses, and violent crimes resulting in injury are usually excluded automatically.

Mental health court approval

All defendants are screened early on, either at the jail or by a court staff. Each mental health court is a little different when it comes to what offenses are accepted, all depending on their jurisdiction. All mental illnesses must be diagnosed by a doctor after a comprehensive assessment following the screening process. The defendant must fully agree to comply with all of the mental health courts terms and conditions.

Posted in Arizona Laws, Mental Health, Mental Health Defenses | Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

What Exactly are Mental Health Courts?

17August
2018

A serious mental health illness can make court cases complicated. Luckily, adults with a serious mental health illness can attend a Mental Health Court. You may have heard of Mental Health Courts, but what exactly are they and who qualifies for them?

Definition

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Mental Health Courts are specialty courts that combines judicial supervision along with community treatment and support for those with a mental health illness. This process helps reduce criminal activity and improves the quality of life of the participants.

The goals of mental health courts include:

  • Reduce incarceration
  • Prevents participants from committing even more crimes
  • Provide mental health help and support

Who qualifies?

To qualify for Mental Health Courts, there are specific medical and legal criteria that someone must follow.

Medical – must have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or any axis 1 disorders, which include PTSD and depression.

Legal – Must attend court in the same county the participant lives in, but there are some crimes that automatically excludes qualifying for these specialty courts:

  • DUIs
  • Sexual offenses
  • Violent crimes resulting in injury

Requirements

It is always best to talk to a mental health attorney to know if you qualify and if a Mental Health Court is the right option for you. If you do end up attending a Mental Health Court, keep in mind that you must fully complete your sentence.

Participants must:

  • Follow the treatment plan that was given to them
  • Take any medications prescribed
  • Attend counseling/group sessions that will be provided to them
  • Report to the judge at least once a week (this can be reduced to once a month based on multiple factors)
  • Undergo standard probation rules including drug testing

The experienced mental health attorneys at Garcia Law Firm are here to help. If you think you could benefit from Mental Health Courts, contact us today for legal guidance.

Posted in Mental Health, Mental Health Defenses | Tagged , , , , , , , |

New Regulations Added for Sober Living Homes in Phoenix

18July
2018

The valley of the sun has seen a recent spike in sober living homes. However, the increased number of homes are causing some issues with surprised neighbors, forcing them to take action.

Currently, there is no way to tell or know for sure if a sober living or recovery home is in your neighborhood or plans to come to your area. This is because there is no database that keeps track of these homes. Furthermore, this means that there is also no one regulating these home.

Photo by Sarah Jane on Pexels

Why a spike in sober living and recovery homes? It is reported that heroin and other drugs are becoming easier to find and are now cheaper. Many people need treatment after they become addicted and these homes are a source for it,  but since some group homes are not regulated, the sober living residents get taken advantage of. Often times, these homes will take the money of the residents, but not make them adhere to any rules. So in the end, they are actually not getting the help they need to get on the road to recovery.

Since no one is really in charge of overseeing or managing these homes, neighbors in these areas have been looking for ways to change that. A group of residents came together and was able to get the Phoenix City Council to pass new regulations on sober living and recovery homes. These regulations include a $1,500 licensing fee for homes and spacing rules, meaning that these homes cannot be too close to each other, occupying the same area. There is no official list of homes, so enforcing these new regulations could be a challenge. However, the Arizona Recovery Housing Association has stepped up and is trying to regulate a handful of sober living and recovery homes.

 

Source: ABC 15

Posted in Arizona, Arizona Laws, Probation | Tagged , , |

Is Working Affecting Your Mental Health for a Compensation Claim?

18June
2018

We all know jobs can be stressful. The daily pressures can lead to physical issues and even psychological issues. Especially when an employer happens to conduct atrocious behavior. You may even be able to have a workman’s compensation claim for the mental illness caused by your employer and workplace.

Who is eligible?

Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels

All employees have the right to file a legal claim or workman’s compensation claim if they think they received an injury while at work. Most employers usually have workman’s compensation coverage or some type of state funded coverage. If you have any serious injuries from an incident at work, you should file a workman’s compensation claim immediately. If you have been showing signs or symptoms of depression, anxiety or any other mental illness, you still may be able to file a workman’s compensation claim as well. Sometimes the signs are subtle, but it still leaves a big impact on the mental and physical health of the employee.

Providing evidence

When filing a claim, you must be able to provide sufficient evidence including documentation from a licensed psychologist. All of your evidence must be clear and convincing. It can be difficult to prove that your mental illness was a direct result caused by your employer or workplace. It still can be done though. Document any events to help prove your case and always keep track of dates, times, any witnesses and other important details.

You might have a case if…

If you feel you have been impacted so much by the behavior of your employer or the environment of your workplace that it has caused a mental illness, you might have a case. You should speak with an employment or mental health attorney to know your rights. Common causes could include belittling, intimidation, yelling during work or aggravating conditions in the workplace that could include timers, monitoring and excessive control.

Posted in Arizona, Arizona Laws, Mental Health | Tagged , , , , , , |

Employer Responsibilities Regarding Mental Health

18May
2018

In recent years, workplaces have been known to implement programs benefiting the physical, mental and overall wellness of the employees. Many companies have even added a Chief Wellness Officer to the staff.  Still, more needs to be done. What else can employers do to help break the stigma about mental health and talk about it more openly in the workplace?

The Issue

Many employees are afraid to talk to their employer about mental health and for many reasons.

  • Afraid of losing respect from their employer
  • Afraid their job or promotion could be at risk
  • Feeling ashamed
  • Increased anxiety
  • Afraid to ask for accommodations

What can employers do to help?

Employers need to take offer additional resources to help with mental health in the workplace.

  • Work-life balance – Giving the option to work from home can help decrease anxiety in employees. Having the flexibility to know that they can work from home, let’s say during a bad storm when weather makes it difficult to get to work, will eliminate any extra stress. The fair policies in place should be beneficial to both the employees and company.
  • Paid Time Off – When employees receive paid time off, they will not feel guilty or uncomfortable when they are unable to go to work if they are sick. By having less options like this at work, many employees feel powerless. Plus, time off helps better the performance of employees, which benefits the company overall.

Photo by Eli DeFaria on Unsplash

Communication is key!

Communication is of course key. Employers should talk openly about their policies that help with the mental health of their employees. The way employees interact with each other at work and the environment of the workplace can also play a big impact on the mental health of employees and their performance, which is why employers want to make the workplace an ideal and pleasant experience for all.

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged , , , , , , |

How Social Media Can Impact Your Mental Health Case

18April
2018

Social media has taken the world by storm. It has changed the way we interact with each other by using platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We use these to update everyone on everything going on in our life. However, sharing too much information can be harmful to your legal case.

Photos & Posts

Photos and updates from social media have been used more and more as evidence in court cases. These things can produce doubt in your character as well as your version of events highlighted in the case. If you are facing an injury or mental health case, posting posts or photos of you doing things that goes against your claims could really harm you. For example, if you are claiming you have an injury, but post something about you dancing, that could be an issue. Also, if you are claiming that you are suffering from depression, but post that you are out having fun, this could discredit you. Admitting really anything about your case or your incident on social media could be used against you. Especially if you are using apps that having tracking devices on them as they could dispute the time and place of your whereabouts. Keep in mind that posts can usually be inadmissible in court, but photos and videos are very hard to dispute. It is best to keep a low profile while going through any legal case, especially if it is a mental health case.

Emotional Distress & Mental Health

Cases that revolve around pain, suffering emotionally or mental health can still use social media posts as evidence. If you are portraying a very positive and happy life, this could be used to question your credibility and your claim that you’re really suffering emotionally. In most cases, this has actually worked. Even photos of you out at social activities smiling could be used against you.

Protect Yourself

To protect yourself from having this kind of evidence brought forward to harm your case, you should avoid posting on social media or even deactivating your profiles for a while. You may think that your information is private, but it is better to be safe than sorry. If you are open with your attorney through the whole case and never talk about your case on social media, you should be able to avoid drawing any extra attention to yourself.

Posted in Mental Health, Mental Health Defenses | Tagged , , , |

Benefits of Using a Criminal Defense Lawyer Specializing in Mental Health

18March
2018

If you are involved in a legal case which includes issues surrounding mental health, it is important to use a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer who specializes in the area to represent you. Not only will these attorneys be more compassionate and understanding of your situation, they are also specialists in the field and have more detailed knowledge about mental illness than the typical criminal defense attorney. Keep reading to learn more. 

photo by Kat Smith

A More Compassionate Understanding 

Legal battles centered around victims of mental illness can cause a wide range of emotions for those involved, and this may include close friends and family members. Having an educated lawyer who is experienced in the field will help ensure clients that their attorney has experience helping other people who have found themselves in similar situations. A lawyer who is actively compassionate towards your case, and mental illness in general, will most likely be better equipped to handle and sympathize with your individual situation.

Experts in the Field

When isn’t it a good idea to hire an expert in the field? You wouldn’t hire a foot surgeon to perform open-heart surgery, so why would you hire a random attorney to represent your mental health case? Hiring an attorney who specializes in mental health will help you in your case because they will be the most informed about the issues and will have access to up-to-date information.

When mental health issues are involved, there may be more complicated paperwork to fill out and give to the courtroom. If an attorney is not aware of specific laws surrounding mental health in the state, they may be missing out on giving their clients a better final verdict. Attorneys who are already familiar with all of these laws may be able to save time while giving you more informed information regarding your legal rights in the case.

Photo by Kat Smith

Posted in Arizona, Arizona Laws, Mental Health | Tagged , , |

Program Tackles Mental Health Talk at Arizona Schools

18February
2018

Thanks to a new program, mental health is starting to be discussed more in Arizona schools starting this year. There are currently no standards for mental health education in Arizona schools. But some school districts are taking the issue into their own hands and changing the current system by opening up the conversation on mental health.

“Ending the Silence”: A New School Program

Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 10 to 24 year olds in the United States. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, around 18 percent of Americans suffer with a mental illness. That is why they have started the program, “Ending the Silence”. The program consists of a classroom presentation for middle and high school students to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

The Program has Already Been Adopted into Several Schools Throughout Southern Arizona

Arizona is planning to expand the program across even more schools in the state. It has already received positive and encouraging feedback from participating students, with 19 percent reporting that is has made them take action to get help. Take home handouts are also available to help students feel more comfortable about openly discussing the topic with their parents. The stigma surrounding mental health has been an issue causing teens and young adults to feel embarrassed or ashamed, preventing them from talking about it.

Some School Districts are Also Starting to Require Health Education

There were 47 reported suicides in Arizona in the year 2015 and 98 percent of them were found to have been preventable. Because of this, some school districts are creating health education classes as required credits to expose students to more mental health education. Arizona schools are hoping that by opening up the conversation about mental health, more students will understand it and feel more comfortable asking for help.

Photo by Michal Jarmoluk

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged , |

Are Arizona Prisoners Being Treated Properly for Mental-Health Issues?

18January
2018

Photo courtesy of: Jim Jackson

In the recent years, the Arizona Department of Corrections has been held accountable for improper treatment regarding health issues of all kinds. In an effort to improve the situation, a court order was placed on the Arizona prison system. However, the order has been ignored so many times that a United States judge has considered holding the prison system in contempt of court. 

There has been countless cases of the prison system failing to treat physical issues, and it seem apparent that mental-health issues are not being treated properly either. For Arizona prisoners struggling with mental illnesses such as bipolar or schizophrenia, it is difficult for them to get on the right medication and properly treat and diagnose their serious medical conditions.

One inmate who suffers from bipolar disorder, describes the quality of mental-health treatment in the prisons as poor and not improving. He went on to describe the doctor visits as the opposite of therapeutic. Victims of mental-health issues in Arizona prisons generally only see a doctor once every three months, often for just three minutes. These serious conditions require much more care and consideration while being treated, and this treatment has been described by many to be inadequate and unhelpful.

Since prisoners usually do not see the same doctor, a plethora of different medications may be prescribed to one individual. People suffering from mental-health issues need to be put on a long-term plan so they can manage their lives to the best of their ability. People have begun voicing their concerns about the impossibility of managing serious mental-health issues without stability or true guidance in the Arizona prison systems.

The most troubling aspect is that many of these prisoners are scared to speak out because they fear harsh punishment. This prevents progress from happening, and allows the Arizona prison system to continue their unlawful health practices.

Photo by Jim Jackson

Posted in Arizona, Arizona Laws, Mental Health, Mental Health Defenses | Tagged , , , |

Arizona Raises Awareness for Mental Illness

18December
2017

Candlelight Celebration For Mental Illness Awareness

Every year, a candlelight celebration is held to raise awareness for mental health in downtown Phoenix. The Mental Health Awareness Coalition and Arizona State University Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy hosted the 22nd annual celebration this year with the theme of embracing the journey that mental health has put many people on. While mental health is a difficult thing to deal with and can cause serious pain, it is important to celebrate those who have conquered or who have begun to get in control of their mental health and to honor the journey they have been on because of it.

Aside from bringing awareness to and celebrating mental health, this event provides Valley residents with a number of resources for those who need or know someone who needs help with mental illness. At the event, attendees have the opportunity to speak to the representatives of many different organizations that provide help and resources to valley residents struggling with mental illness. This event is so helpful because it shows people what types of help are out there and it allows them to gain information all in one place.

Arizona’s Lack Of Mental Health Care

Although this event and others like it are designed to provide resources to those in need of mental health guidance, access to mental health care is still lacking. According to Mental Health America, Arizona ranks 40th in the country’s access to mental health care. One of the biggest problems is de-stigmatizing mental health and mental health education.

Events like the one held by The Mental Health Awareness Coalition and Arizona State University Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy are a great step in the right direction because they spread awareness throughout communities. Not many people feel comfortable talking about mental health, but having events that celebrate it encourages them to do so. The more people that are educated about mental health the more progress that can be made.

Photo by Andreas Lischka

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged , , , , |